agriculture

The American Eating Disorder

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Food seems like a simple enough subject. Life on Earth exists for and because of it. Calories are, quite literally, the fuel for life. As long as something is growing for something further up the food chain to consume, life continues. It really is that simple, right?

Wrong.

Humans have managed to complicate things. We have taste preferences and cultural differences and growing regions and if you’re an American, you have it so good, you can pick and choose right down to the person you want to grow your food. And if you throw a big enough fit, you can dictate how they market that food. Wait .. we are talking about the very thing that sustains human life, right?? Just calories?

Imagine my surprise as I heard again and again in today’s news cycle that Amazon cut prices at Whole Foods up to 43%. Excuse me? Where in a grocer’s margin is there 43% to cut?? So that the bunch of bananas you just paid $1.00 for was actually only worth 57 cents?? And at 57 cents, Amazon – a multi billion dollar global company – has deemed that bunch of bananas profitable. Because they wouldn’t cut prices by that massive margin unless they could .. Right??

Do we then assume that Whole Foods has been ripping off every granola crunching hiker, spandex wearing yogi and college coed in town? How could they prey on Soccer Moms wanting to do the best for their children? Moms and Dads who have done their research, ad nauseam, to make sure they only consume ethically sourced meats and organic produce. Would a massive corporation take advantage of their sheep? Er .. I mean, valued customers?

But I’m not completely sure we need to blame Whole Foods, Amazon or any other major corporation for filling the needs (read: preferences) we demand.

Follow me for a minute ..

Say you and I are standing out in front of your favorite grocery store. Totally empty but for their familiar shelves teeming with all your heart and belly desire. Not a soul in there, no one will see what goes in your basket. I hand you a crisp $100. Buy whatever you want. What goes in your basket? Mine would have a good bottle of wine, some veggies, a better cut of steak than I usually get, maybe some chicken breasts for the freezer, a few new spices I’ve wanted to try – oh and I couldn’t forget my favorite half gallon of ice cream! What’s in your basket? What percentage of that $100 did you spend on organic? Ethically sourced? Non GMO Verified?

So, same store. New, crisp $100. Your mission is to purchase food for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Grab everything you can to send to Houston. Granted, they probably need non perishable items but really, did you spend the same percentage of that $100 on organic? Ethically Sourced? Non GMO Verified? I know there’s Non GMO Rice and Non GMO pasta. Be honest. I’m guessing the answer is, no. Probably far less. You might not have even checked labels. Why? Do they deserve less? Because you’re not preparing it? Because they’re not your family? What if it’s another spandex wearing yogi that was evacuated to the Houston Convention Center? Doesn’t that family deserve the same quality of food that you consume?

Back to Whole Foods. As a corporation, they did such a good job marketing what they sold – no matter what it actually was – as wholesome and good, that their customers were willing to pay whatever they asked. Even if it was 43% more than necessary. Even if it was 43% more than what was fair, realistic, even ethical.

Nourishment has become so much more than simply, life-sustaining calories. Americans have cultish behaviors about brands and restaurants and trendy foods. Did you know we nearly starved an entire village because American demand for couscous priced them out of their staple food? Explain to me that kind of ethical eating?

As American consumers, we’ve assigned very little of our time and effort to actually growing our own food. Instead, we choose to have two income households, eat out or order in rather than cook at home, we even trust our nourishment to foreign countries who can grow our food choices more economically than we can. But our obsession with food has the average consumer micromanaging the farmer and rancher and believing every blogger who finds a worm in their salad. How about we redistribute some of the wealth that we so willfully gave to Whole Foods. Maybe take out a corner of the lawn and plant some vegetables. Maybe not pick on the guy who hunts food for his family. At least he knows where his meat came from.

Maybe it’s time we overcome the American Eating Disorder.

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Fatih

Hello? That girl? Are you there??

To the girl that had everything. Don’t worry, those were just things.

To the girl that had the guy she wanted. It’s okay because the one who loves you, will want you back – forever.

To the girl who was on top of the world. Turns out – South Pole is top of the world too.

To the girl who had it all figured out. Silly girl, God is the only one who has it figured out. Prov 19:21

To the girl who wants more. Live in the now. Now is beautiful. Here is where your future is. Here is perfect.

To the girl who had a home. You still do. Home is where your heart is.

To the girl who is looking for happiness. Stop. Happiness is everywhere. Stop looking.

Love,

~ That girl.

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Fatih

Slow Down

Slow down.

1,000 miles per hour: the speed at which the Earth spins on its axis.

67,000 miles per hour: the speed at which the Earth is hurled around the Sun.

About 35 miles per hour: the speed at which I hit a series of bumps I’d hit probably 30 times before as I approached a downhill corner on Old Dennis Road in little Brock, Texas. The difference this morning was that it rained a little bit and those little bumps were enough for me to break traction in the truck that one of my best friends has let me borrow while I’m here in Texas and my Jeep is stranded in California. I recall thinking (in my coffee-deprived haze) that the truck should be turning by now, but no. And here we go!

Slow down, I prayed.

The big white Ford ran off the opposite side of the road, swapped ends and crossed back to the correct side of the road, stopping with the driver’s side firmly planted in a ditch. Well, shit. I thought. Truck was still running so I switched into 4×4. The truck lumbered forward riding along the ditch a bit. I put it in reverse, still in the ditch. Phooey. I had moved the truck enough that I was no longer against the bank and finally able to open the door. Surveying the damage from outside, it was apparent I wasn’t going anywhere. Panic set in. I cannot miss a trip.

Slow down, God said.

Wednesday before Thanksgiving found me starting a trip taking me all over the southern United States landing me in San Diego for Thanksgiving Day – long enough to drive to Creston to spend the day at home. The same Wednesday found me at the beginning of the flu. After spending the holiday with my family, I made it back to San Diego with a full heart, full tummy and a full blown fever. Shakes, sweats, chills .. I wanted to die. But instead, I finished working my trip, ran out of fuel about a mile outside of the Airport Employee Parking Lot in Fort Worth. I was in such a hurry to get to the airport, I thought I didn’t have time to get fuel. I certainly didn’t have time to be sick with a fever in a truck that was out of fuel and eventually a dead battery.

Slow down. I didn’t listen.

Six hours later, I finally made it home. 36 hours off and I was back at the airport in the wake of a five day fever and still feeling horrid. Two day trip then home again with plans to go to Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo to see my sister and best friend and what trouble I could find. I could barely get out of bed for almost three days. Physically and financially drained, I scrapped my plans to Vegas and tried to work my days off. As fate would have it, I wasn’t legal for a single trip. Homesick, still exhausted and longing for mom’s cooking, I knew it was time to see my family.

I think I’ll slow down a little ..

Two days at home was exactly what the doctor ordered. A run with my best friend, a great day working with another great friend, time with my parents and my niece, seeing the ranch green again and cooking on mom’s stove. These things are all food for my soul. One of my very wise Flight Attendant Instructors, Amy Freisen, left us with some very sage advice on our last day of class: To be the best person we can be, all things must be in balance: Faith, Family, Work. When these things are out of balance, find the things that fill you up and you’ll return to balance. I’m listening, Amy. Makes sense.

Time for me to slow down.

Vegas, Vegas. How could I get to Vegas!!?!? I know – I’ll work a trip! Sure enough, all it took was to update my preferences and at 6:42 this morning, Shirley from Crew Scheduling called with a trip where I’d stay tonight in Phoenix and be in Vegas tomorrow night for Round 10 of the NFR and to see my sister! Perfection!! All I had to do was finish packing my bags and get to the airport! I had two hours to go ..

I’d been praying to the wrong gods .. The God I should have been praying to, had different plans for me.

Manners in Texas aren’t limited to the dinner table or “Ma’am and Sir”. They extend to country roads where no one is a stranger. You quickly learn to wave at everyone you pass. And a Texan sees someone’s truck in a ditch facing the wrong way, Texans stop. Seven neighbors stopped to see if I was okay. So many people stopped that I had to call Crew Scheduling back no less than four times before I could tell them I’d been in an accident. One gentleman said that he’d go get the tractor from the Moore’s ranch right across the road. He’d worked for them for years and still has the keys. I told him I had two tires off the rim so a tractor wouldn’t help. He recommended I call Sargent’s. They were the best wrecker in town. I thanked him. Another gentleman stopped and said he had fixed that fence across the road about half a dozen times. He builds fence and every time someone runs through it, he gets the call. I apologized for not getting him any work this time. He was glad I didn’t, I agreed and thanked him for slowing down. Five other Texans slowed down to offer a ride or offer to call someone for me. I thanked them all for their kindness. I’m grateful for the manners Texans are born with.

Slow Down. I hear you.

I called the wrecker as recommended and the first voice I heard was a woman who grunted through what sounded like years of whiskey and cigarettes: “Sargent’s!” I couldn’t dam up the tears any longer. I began sobbing and she softened instantly. I hadn’t even gotten a word out when I heard her sweetly say, “Oh honey! Are you okay???” I squeaked out that I was but I needed a tow truck and that I was parked in a ditch on Old Dennis Road. She only asked if I was North or South of the highway and repeated back my phone number. We hung up and I couldn’t stop crying. I was so grateful for her grace and knew she would take care of me.

I can’t go anywhere without You. I am here, waiting for You.

Within 8 or so minutes, my roommate’s mother pulled up and insisted she wait with me until the wrecker came. We had enough time to turn the car around before the wrecker arrived. Out of the huge red truck, lights a-flashing, crawled a huge man. Bald head, red beard, tattoos up both arms. Kevin approached us with a wide smile and announced, “God was watching out for you today!” He introduced himself and handed us both a business card. Kevin is a wrecker by trade but what he really loves to do is spread the Word of God. Kevin is also a Preacher.

I hear you. I see you. I’m listening.

Kevin looked over the truck and much to my surprise, he found no major damage. Tires looked like they were in good shape. He offered the name of three tire shops after he deftly loaded the old white Ford onto the wrecker. On our ride to town, he told me stories of the others he’d pulled out of that same corner. He assured me I couldn’t have been going very fast because if I was, I would have landed in the field. He encouraged me to forgive myself because these little things are called ‘accidents’ and not ‘on purposes’ for a reason. He said, “There was a reason you weren’t supposed to make it to work today. It could have been much worse. I’m glad you’re okay.”

Me too, Kevin. Me too.

Kevin was right. No major damage. 30 minutes at the tire shop and I was back on the road. Thoughts started racing through my mind. I needed to call Crew Scheduling and get another trip. Gotta call my mom and Jeramy and let them know everything is okay. And call the insurance company and cancel the claim. Need to start looking for a replacement bed for the truck.

No, Carin. It’s time to slow down.

Everything happens when it should. Everything happens as it should. I was reminded today that when I try to cram everything possible into a finite amount of time, something has got to give. Today it was the traction in the big white Ford on Old Dennis Road.

My relationship with God ebbs and flows, waxes and wains. There are times where I need him and other times where he calls on me to do his work. I feel confident in my relationship with Him. Perfect in our imperfection. God came into my life long before I could choose him. I will forever be grateful to my parents for choosing the Catholic Church for my baptism and early moral direction. I still find comfort and warmth in the Catholic traditions. I am also grateful for both my grandfathers and the ability to observe them in their interpretation of Faith. One was a conservative man who you’d find every Sunday in the same pew of the same church following the same routine. The other, I never knew to attend a formal church service as long as I was alive, although he was a Methodist Preacher when my mother was a child. Instead he sang his Faith and told biblical stories and taught us about God in everything that he did. Both men were Godly men. Both were my mentors in Fatih.

I know and feel that now is a time for me to seek Him and reinvest in my Faith. This will be my first year in my new career and away from the traditions in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. My perfect journey to this moment in the season of Advent reminds me that my Faith must be constantly renewed. Time to slow down. Time to seek Him. Time to listen to what He intends for me.

I hear you. I’m listening.

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Happily Ever After

Holy buckets. This is actually happening!!

On a flight home from Portland a little over a year ago, I was in seat 1B and the sweet flight attendant in the jump seat awkwardly nearly touching knees with me, struck up a conversation. The usual, Where do you live? How was your trip? niceties were exchanged. She commented how lucky I was to call San Luis Obispo County, home. Of course I agreed but countered and said she was pretty lucky, too, because she gets to see the world. I shared with her my love of travel and told her that if I was younger and had it all to do over again, I’d be a Flight Attendant. She responded, “Honey, I’m 50 years old. I started this job when I was 47. I’m a single mother, managed to get my two kids safely into college while working two jobs. Now it’s my time!”

That conversation and that moment are permanently etched into my mind.

Last year was definitely a tough year and one of transition. I learned, once again that the status quo can change in an instant and to take nothing for granted. I learned that “home” is where my heart is, no matter what my address is. And most valuably, the check-list of life we all have, that is surely the key to happiness, should only be used as a guide. Often, the more boxes you check, the more illusive happiness can seem.

Rather than looking at happiness as a destination, I began to look at happiness as a state of being that runs parallel to life and our every day activities. I learned to be happy, no matter the circumstances, just as a cancer patient can find happiness on their worst of days. We can all agree that cancer and happy usually aren’t associated, yet, some of the most inspiring people we find are facing extreme adversity.

After a particularly enlightening work meeting last fall, I headed East for Reno to hopefully check a box called, “Tall, Dark and Handsome.” The 12 hours total drive time offered fantastic reflection about what I was doing and where life was going. As excited as I was about the newest Mr. Wonderful, I was equally pleased to be traveling again. For me, few things make me feel happier than to check out new places, and enjoy the company of new found friends. I recalled the last trip I had taken was to Portland for work .. Oh yes. That sweet Flight Attendant. My mind wandered with the miles and I wondered about what that life would really be like. About a month later, I Googled, Flight Attendant Position Available. Yahtzee!! Three companies were hiring. 9 months later, here I am!!

I’ll be working for one of the Big Three who has a very strict policy about Social Media and what we, as trainees and employees can share. I’m completely okay with that. If I choose to look at this time in my life as one of renascence, I’ll take the opportunity to spend more time with my electronics turned off and more time talking to the people in my immediate proximity. This doesn’t mean an end to blogging and social media. Simply, taking the opportunity to slow down and be present in the moment. I’m not sure if it was my normally hyper and anxious disposition or the 7+ years of taking over 100 calls per work day (not to mention text messages and emails) that had me adjusted to the constantly connected life. Here nor there, my future will be in the here and now.

I’ve gladly answered 1000 questions since this new chapter was revealed. The only questions that surprised me a bit were those about my happiness. Specifically, if this job would finally make me happy. I guess I can answer that a few different ways. 1. It is not this job’s duty to make me happy. 2. I don’t think I’m an unhappy person. 3. Happiness, to me, is a choice and one I choose every day.

So with warm and happy thoughts of an incredibly supportive base of friends and family, wheels are officially up on this journey. I will continue my life of not wasting moments, seizing opportunities and enjoying this crazy ride. If you find me radio silent occasionally over the next few months, I hope it only adds to the intrigue and fun. Next time I’m close by, ask me a thousand more questions and I will answer every one of them. Happily.

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Drugs & Addiction

Aggies and Speedballs; Shawna and Her Recovery

I’ve always admired Shawna. I remember her as being quick witted and having huge smile with a personality to match. She was full of energy and had a presence that demanded attention. She was never one of those kids that wanted to be the center of attention – she received it because she was working her ass off along side of us. I loved seeing her at fairs and shows and seeing her do well.

The first I’d heard of Shawna falling on hard times was when she was in the local paper for theft. There was her mug shot. Undeniably, the sweet girl that grew up on a ranch and in the show ring and on a softball field, was officially involved in the wrong crowd. None of this made sense to me. Her parents had done all the “right” things, supported her in the “right” lifestyle. Shawna’s friends and support group were the same people who were my friends and support group and surely, WE wouldn’t allow this to happen.

Truth is, drugs are everywhere. And they’re way more available than we would like to admit. Although Shawna drank alcohol in High School, she knew nothing of drugs until she was 19. She visited a friend at college and commented on her sudden weight loss. It wasn’t long into the visit until the friend was doing lines off the toilet lid and offered some to Shawna. Shawna obliged. Oddly enough, while Shawna enjoyed the feeling of her first high, this wasn’t what hooked her.

About a year passed before Shawna tried drugs again. She witnessed another friend doing drugs and was admittedly curious. The friend was adamant that she not try anything they were doing and insisted that she stay off drugs. Tenacious Shawna finally wore them down, and the beast was awakened.

I asked Shawna, when she was in the middle of her addiction, if she thought about quitting. Her response was clear. “Every day. I felt stuck. Every time I’d get high, I wanted to quit.” Shawna’s recovery is very closely tied to her Faith. Every day when she wakes up, she has to make a conscious decision to spend the day sober. Right now, she has surrounded herself with healthy, positive people. She said that she’s praying constantly and listening to Christian music. Her sobriety is very delicate and it got real complicated about a month and a half ago.

Shawna had been complaining of chest pain and blamed it on softball and something to do with her ribs. She toughed it out for a long time until she finally went to the hospital where she learned she had a massive lung infection, empyema, and pneumonia. She was admitted to the hospital for two weeks where she was in ICU for a week after surgery. For a brief period, she was even on life support complete with feeding tubes and a ventilator. The incision on her back where they drained and removed the infection is about 7 inches long and looks like a zipper from the 21 staples they used to keep it closed. Three tubes were inserted between her ribs to drain the fluid and infection. Her pain was indescribable.

As hospitals do, they hooked Shawna, an addict in recovery, up to Morphine. How else were they supposed to control that kind of pain? She said that being in the hospital and having access to those kinds of drugs was the worst thing ever. She said, “I loved it and it really scared me.” Shawna was back on drugs, but this time, it was Doctor’s Orders. As doctors and nurses do, they’d ask her to rate her pain on a scale of 1-10. She said she never gave them less than a 7 although at her worst, she was probably a little over a 5. An addict’s mind will choose drugs if they can get away with it. And she did.

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After she was released from the hospital, her regular doctor took over her prescriptions. Once she saw what and how much Shawna had been prescribed, medications were once again limited to doses where Shawna could’t get high. She told me the story of a Veteran who had been in the doctor’s office at the same time. She said he was recovering from several major surgeries and was also asked to rate his pain. He was clearly suffering and only rated it a 3. Reality check. Shawna admitted that her high pain ratings were the drug addict talking and she had to choose sobriety once again.

Shawna was laying on the couch at a friends house a little over a week ago. She was in a dark place and not feeling well. The rolodex of drug dealers started spinning in her mind. A friend called and invited her over for a BBQ. Shawna declined saying she would stay home and rest. Truth is, the next call she was going to make was to get drugs. She hit the ground and on her knees, she started praying. She called her friend back and was honest for the first time. She told her friend to come get her, right now, because if she didn’t, Shawna was going back to using drugs. Her friend sped across town and was grateful for the phone call and the opportunity to help. Shawna has always been afraid to reach out. This was a breakthrough.

I asked her how she’s doing now. She said she feels good again. Part of recovery is often, relapse and she admits she over did it on her pain medication since she’s been home from the hospital. She’s off all medication now and is back to reminding herself, every moment of every day, that she wants to be sober and healthy. Drugs aren’t part of the life and future she sees for herself.

When Shawna went into the hospital, she was initially put into a twilight state to aid in her rest and healing. While in this state, she posted rants on social media, spoke to people who had passed away years ago and was generally delirious. Her family finally took her phone away so that she stopped this very public, self-destruct mode she was in. Many people messaged me and approached me in public to ask about what was going on with her. I was quick to tell them that her hospitalization had nothing to do with drug use or relapse or addiction. Flukes happen and while addiction didn’t land her in a hospital bed this time, it did rear it’s ugly head.

Her spiritual mentor from Bethel House asked Shawna if she had prayer requests. As always, Shawna asked them to pray for her Soul Mate :), she asked for a quick healing from the infection and for the return of her strong mindset. I will join in the prayer for these things for Shawna. We talked this morning about many things and she sounded like the girl I have always loved – quick, happy and funny. She was so proud of herself and that breakthrough moment where she knew she was going to choose drugs but instead, chose to be around healthy friends. I encouraged her to remember that moment and call on it for strength when she is in a dark place again.

Addicts are good people. Read that sentence again. I understand that statement is confusing. They were’t born as junkies and thieves and liars and the person that broke your heart a thousand times. I’m not telling you to trust them and believe while they are in the throws of their addiction but I do believe Shawna when she said that she thought about quitting every time she got high.

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I believe Shawna and my friends, Sarah and Karin, when they say that they will never go back to drugs and that lifestyle. Sarah, Karin and Shawna are good people, who made a bad choice, that took them away from the good life for a while. But they’re back. As their friend, I choose to participate in the positive part of their lives. I thank them, every time I can, for coming back and for being a part of my life. I have always enjoyed them and their sobriety is a blessing to me too. I do not understand how they got to the point where drugs were the answer. But I choose to not make that the focus of our friendship. I love them all for a thousand reasons. Drugs are no longer a part of their life and if there’s anything I can do to help keep them sober, they know I’m here for them.

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Whiskey is for Drinking, Water is for Fighting

Honored and humbled as I share my first guest blog with my people. Water is a dificult subject and with the epic drought most of the Western United States is experiencing, passion and concern is universal amongst land owners, citizens, farmers and ranchers. Water divides, unites, destroys, solidifies, quenches and depleats as its quantities waiver. One thing is certain, the West needs more rain and snow. Moving forward, we also need to be smarter about usage, conservation, storage and regulation. Thank you, Megan Brown, for the oportunity to tell our story to your followers. Please take a moment to read and follow Megan’s blog, The Beef Jar.

The Beef Jar

One of the amazing things about farmers and ranchers is solidarity. We will always have differences of opinion about everything, but when push comes to shove, you’ll never find a group of people that are more supportive of each other. This becomes apparent to me every time agriculture has a serious event like a drought or a major storm.  As we know, the western United States is suffering from an epic drought. The networking, and information being shared amongst our groups right now is staggering. The messages of support and advice I’ve been receiving has blown me out of the water (sorry, bad pun). Carin has been one of those people that has offered her support. Like me, she is passionate about her way of life and ranch. She has graciously shared with me a post about her experience with our drought. Please take the time to follow her blog here

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Drugs & Addiction

Aggies and Speedballs; Timmy and how this project started.

My brother, Sean, and his wife had a beautiful baby girl, Ruby Rose, on May 30th, 2013. A year had passed and we were celebrating her first birthday. Many of my brother’s friends now had children of their own so my family was surrounded by these new families and tons of sweet babies.

Sean has a really tight knit group of friends. The closest of them started their friendships in elementary school and junior high. There were actually two groups. They referred to themselves as the POC and the COC; Pozo Oakie Crew and Creston Oakie Crew, respectively, although the COC gave up its title when the two groups waged a playful turf war early in high school and POC was the successor. I literally watched these boys grow up. It almost seemed that they were all my little brothers.

After high school, the POC boys decided to display their talents at the local softball field. Most had played from T-Ball up until you actually had to try out to make a team, at which point, most bowed out. There were a few that went on to play high school sports, most notably, Tim Janowicz. Tim and his brothers were popular, gifted athletes and well known in the community. I went to school with his brother Nate and my sister went to school with his oldest brother Jasch. Tim suffered major injuries in a tragic hunting accident midway through high school. After months spent in the hospital recovering, it seemed his shot at sports scholarships were all but lost. But as any athlete knows, the itch to play the game never goes away. And when he played short stop for the POC at Barney Schwartz Park on Friday nights, folks stopped to watch.

Timmy would dive for balls hit seemingly out of reach. He’d come up with the ball and in a flurry of dust and with Jeter-esque leaps, he’d hurl the ball right on target to get an out. Rec softball hadn’t seen talent like his very often. He paid no attention to the on lookers. His POC teammates on the other hand, they were thrilled that Timmy was making them look good. And so the team carried on for several seasons over a few years, even a few championship T-Shirts were won for the POC.

There were times we’d see Timmy and he’d be clear and coherent and normal. Other times he’d be thin and vacant. It was evident that he wasn’t healthy and that drugs were controlling his life. Speculation was that he was taking pills. As the years went on, rumors of heroin circulated around Timmy. We’d lose track of him and mention of his name would often prompt comments of ‘Not good,’ or ‘I haven’t heard he’s any better.’

We heard he’d been arrested. Felony convictions of possession of a controlled substance, weapons charges and grand theft. Some of us breathed a sigh of relief because at least in jail, he’d be safe, right? Wrong. 5:40 am, Friday, May 30th, 2014, Timothy Richard Janowicz was found unresponsive in his cell bunk bed. Dead. Coroner’s report published on June 24th, 2014 said Timmy died of acute heroin toxicity.

Generally a gregarious and jovial group, we found ourselves standing on the patio at Ruby’s first birthday party, surrounded by most of the original members of the POC, grief stricken because yet another one taken way too early by drugs. Add Timmy’s name to the list buried too young: Trevor Alverez, Jacob Gearheart, Shawn Arthurs, Ricky Johansen are a few of them I recognize or kids that I knew.

Distraught, angry and completely frustrated, I took to Facebook later that night and posted the article from Cal Coast News that announced Timmy’s death. I commented “Here’s a campaign for #NotOneMore. A gun didn’t kill Timmy, years of addiction did .. ” This short rant caught the attention of Cindy Dallaire. She felt compelled to tell the story of her daughter and their fight to keep her alive. I felt compelled to write it for her .. And so this project began.

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Timmy was the tipping point for me. Although no one close to me had died yet, I’d lost multiple friends to drugs and addiction. They knew drugs were a non-negotiable for me and until they were desperate for help, months would pass and I’d hear nothing from them. Truthfully, until Timmy died and Cindy contacted me, I admit I was completely naive to how profound the drug problem is in our area.

When this project started, I’d never heard of The Lighthouse Project, Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, Kayla Peach Memorial Foundation were, and I had no idea what all the Assistant District Attorneys did all day. The ADAs are busy processing drug crimes. Those three organizations and countless others are fighting to save the lives of kids who thought popping pain killers isn’t the same as doing drugs and now they’re addicted to heroin.

My next installment will be Shawna’s story. This is a tough one for me and I know it’s going to be difficult for her. She’s so strong when we talk. I get to see her successes daily through posts on Facebook. A few nights ago, she sold at a charity auction. Shawna has come a long way, baby. I feel guilty dragging her back.

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